The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a gaming experience that has left those who love games in wonder.
You wake up with no memories and some clothes mysteriously left out for you. You’re given a seemingly anachronistic tablet called the Shekiah Slate — your all-purpose key, map and artifact with magic powers you acquire over time. It’s a tablet for magical adventurers. The game opens up once you leave the cave. A field of green, a faraway castle, and a volcano in the distance. This game has the promise of the open world: you can walk, climb and glide your way to any place you can see.
This, in a way, captures the original Zelda made decades ago. You’re left to your own devices, dropped into the middle of a field. In both cases, you can find an Old Man to help, but it’s just as valid to wander straight towards the first goal, or just go exploring where you’d like.
The initial game is already amazing, a massive plateau with mountains to climb and walls to surmount. Combat is the hardest it’s been in decades, with enemies in the opening area still able to kill you in one hit. Gone is picking up a sword and using it all game. Weapons break, and there seem to be no blacksmiths. Beloved series weapon the Master Sword may exist somewhere, but you have no idea where it is and how you can get it. This is a world reclaimed by nature, and you’ll have to make do.
When you receive a glider, the game truly opens up, and you realize the area where you’ve spent hours traversing is one of the smallest regions of a massive world map. There are whole tundras, deserts, mountains, and lakes you’ve yet to see.
Breath of the Wild, despite its breadth, is distilled Zelda adventure. Everything has been created to have the adventure you want. Be a warrior and take out enemy camps. Be a climber and get to the top of the tallest mountains. Spend time seeking out shrines or solving puzzles for rewards. You can even scour the world for 900 little Miyazaki-esque forest sprites called Koroks. Everything has an activity and a reward.
This may simply be what Zelda was building towards. The series has been criticized for handholding, lengthy tutorials, infamously naggy companions (“Hey! Listen!”), and long opening sections stuck in a village for hours.
Here? Your hero Link, some clothes, and a world. Go have an adventure. Pure adventure. Pure Zelda. Especially if you simply wish to see the various fully realized and charming fantasy towns, complete with fantastic races Zelda veterans may recognize.
Beautiful vistas abound, but it’s not just a set piece, it’s not simply tourism. Every strange landmark, tall mountain, and strange animal in the distance is a game in some way. It is simply gaming in its purest form, and any way you want to play the game, Breath of the Wild allows you to have your own irrevocably unique adventure.
If you can, play it. Zelda was made for games like this.